Darrin leaned closer to spit on Mitch’s hole. Rubbing his finger over the saliva, Darrin pushed some into Mitch as his husband let out a loud moan.
Darrin watched Mitch throw his leg over the horse’s neck and then dismount with a jump. He stalked to the visitor, tensed in the manner of an alpha protecting its lair. Darrin swung his leg off Lady and dismounted, following Mitch up the short expanse of driveway to the waiting pair. Mitch stopped out of reach, folded his arms across his chest and glared at the man.
“Why are you here, Steve? What’d you want?” said Mitch through clenched teeth.
“Well I was just coming through this part of the country and thought I’d stop in and see how my little buddy was doing. Your momma and daddy are so proud of their baby boy that everyone knows about you and your Oklahoma ranch,” said Steve with a lecherous grin.
“I’m fine. You can go now,” Mitch snapped.
Steve casually moved closer to Josh and laid his hand on his shoulder, squeezing it lightly.
Mitch almost exploded with anger as he lunged forward. The older man stepped back, with a look of surprise on his face. Then, with a predatory look, he smiled at Mitch. “My, the little bitch has grown some teeth!”
“Get out,” said Darrin. “No one talks to my husband like that!”
Steve ignored Darrin, reaching up and running a finger along Mitch’s jaw. Mitch immediately knocked it away, but Darrin could see a multitude of emotions warring through his face. Darrin turned to the interloper, his protective instincts changing him into a dangerous adversary.
“Leave. Now. Or I won’t be responsible for what happens to you.”
Steve laughed, a sadistic chuckle that traveled through Darrin’s marrow. But before he could move, they heard the sound of a rifle bolt being slammed shut. Turning, he saw Josh standing on the porch with Mitch’s rifle in hand. The look of anger and determination on Josh’s face concerned Darrin.
“Get in your car and leave, before you can’t leave,” said Josh with an iron hard voice.
“Sonny, you ain’t got the balls to shoot me. But I was about ready to leave anyhow. I’ll be back though. I want to see my little cock-sucking bitch again before I leave town,” sneered the intruder.
All three men watched as the demonic creature strolled across the lawn and climbed in his car. Once the dust settled, Josh expelled his held breath and began shaking. Mitch walked over and took the gun from him, patting his back as he did.
“Josh, you could have gotten hurt. Why did you grab the gun?” asked Darrin.
“He was creepy, before you got here. It was slimy to talk to him. When he put his hand on my shoulder, it made my skin crawl. I can’t really explain it. It was like he wanted to—”
“Yes, that’s exactly what he wanted to do,” said Mitch with a sigh. “I think we need to go inside. I think ya’ll deserve an explanation.”
They moved into the house, Mitch unloaded the rifle and put it back in the bedroom. Coming out with the single 30-06 cartridge from the rifles breech, he sat on the chair across from Darrin and tossed the bullet back and forth for several minutes as he collected his thoughts. Darrin watched Mitch closely, instinctively knowing that this intruder was the mysterious problem that Mitch had never been willing to talk about. Finally, after several long minutes, Mitch sighed and laid the shell on the table in front of him. Taking a deep breath, with his eyes locked on the floor, he began.
“I was 12 the first time. I’d just hit puberty a few months before. Steve somehow knew my parents. ‘Uncle Steve’.” Mitch let out a bitter laugh. “He had always been a big toucher. But it got worse as I got older. He’d stroke the inside of my thigh. Of course I was one big hormone dump, so I let him. I might have tried to stop him a time to two, but mostly I let it happen.”
Darrin started to speak, but Mitch lifted his eyes and shook his head. “Darrin, let me finish, or I never will. There’s a lot of baggage with this.” Mitch took another breath and continued. “Anyway, eventually he was rubbing my crotch. Pretty soon he had his hand in my pants and I liked it. The first time I ever . . . ejaculated, he was stroking me.”
Darrin moved to sit beside Mitch, wrapping his arms around his chest and held him softly. Mitch hugged him back and gave a small ghost of a smile. “It’s ok, babe. I know up here it wasn’t my fault.” Mitch pointed to his head. “But it still feels like it was my fault, that I should have done something to stop it. I’ve moved on, it’s just hard to get rid of that image.
Anyway, eventually we moved to oral sex. Mostly me on my knees, and then I’d get a handjob afterwards. Steve would threaten to tell everyone that I was sucking his cock if I stopped. Sometimes it was only a couple of times a month, sometimes it was a couple of times a week. But after he seduced me that first time, it was pretty much the same. He also liked to call me bitch and his little boy cunt. I hated that, even then.
He’s also the reason I didn’t have a prom. I was going and had rented a tux and everything. But then he called. Wanted me swinging on his dick he said. He always had me swallow, always. But this time he pulled out and shot all over my tux. I couldn’t go, there was no way. Not after that.”
Darrin rubbed Mitch’s back, at a loss as to what to do. Both of them looked up in surprise as Josh began to speak. “He was molesting you. He isn’t an ex-boyfriend, he’s a child molester. It wasn’t your fault. You were just a little kid, and he talked you into it. It shouldn’t have happened. I wish there was something I could do to help, Mitch.”
Mitch gave Josh a lopsided smile. “Thanks Josh. I probably shouldn’t even be telling you this. It doesn’t make me look too good, I know. And here you thought I had it all together.”
“When did it stop, babe?” asked Darrin.
“Senior year in high school, I came out. Then he didn’t have a threat over me. But it took a long time to get over it.” Mitch looked at Darrin and smiled. “Actually I’d say you had a lot to do with me getting over it.”
“Me? But that was just a few years ago,” said Darrin.
“Yeah, I know,” replied Mitch.
“That’s terrible, Mitch. I wish I’d shot the little SOB now,” said Josh with a look of hatred frozen on his face.
Mitch looked at Josh for several minutes, seeing how the emotions were tearing him apart. “Josh, look. What he did was wrong. I really do know that. Guilt comes with what happened, but you’re right. A guy in his 30’s shouldn’t be doing what Steve did to me when I was 12. But now it’s up to me. I can either let him win, or I can heal myself. For some people that means professional help, but I think I’m doing ok. No nightmares, no commitment issues.” Mitch smiled at Darrin and gave him a quick kiss. “Today just caught me by surprise. But I still wouldn’t turn my back on him. He’s a snake, one that hides, waits, and then strikes when you get close. Actually he’s an insult to snakes, he’s a Navajo skinwalker, he’s just doing evil shit on his way to becoming clizyati, He likes to hurt people and it’s only going to get worse.”
Darrin frowned slightly. “Clizyati?”
“Yeah, means ‘pure evil’,” said Mitch.
Josh nodded and started to speak, then stopped. Mitch waited for several minutes while Josh seemed to fight with himself, as it became evident that he wasn’t going to ask his question, Mitch prompted him. “What’s bothering you, Josh? Just ask, it’s ok.”
“Well, I don’t want to ask something that might hurt you. But, as you got older, you’re bigger than him. Why didn’t you . . .” Josh looked away, embarrassed at the implications of his question.
“Josh,” started Mitch, “I guess it’s like working cattle. Once you get your bluff in on them while they’re small, even when they can run over your ass they won’t because they still think they’re that 70 pound calf. So I guess I was the 70 pound calf.
Of course, the blackmail made it easier for him. Once he didn’t have that to hold over me, I gradually escaped his influence. But it still is around and comes out sometimes.” Mitch looked at Darrin. “Like when the lawyer guy came on to you. That fired up all kinds of bad memories.”
Darrin nodded and let out a sigh. “I can see that. What a horrible thing to do to someone. He must be one sick bastard.”
“He is, he really is.”
Everyone slowly relaxed when Steve didn’t reappear the next day. After a few more days, Mitch decided he must have gone back to Texas. Heading into the barn for feed for Storm and Lady, he walked into the darkened storeroom. But something didn’t feel right. He turned to leave but just as he did, he felt a circle of cold metal on the back of his neck.
“There bitch, how does it feel to have a gun pointed at you? Where’s the little faggot cunt with his rifle now? Huh?”
“Steve, you really don’t want to do this. This isn’t east Texas where missing people are overlooked. And Darrin will hunt you down.”
“Oh just behave, bitch, and I won’t have to kill you. But you’re gonna suck my dick, just like the old days. You thought you could run, but you can’t. You can’t ever get away from me.”
Mitch heard the sound of a zipper going down and broke out in a sweat. Memories of being forced overwhelmed him. He flashed back to a helpless and defenseless 12 year old. His heart raced as he felt a hand on his shoulder, pushing him down. As his knees started to bend his system was overwhelmed with the years of abuse by this man. Then fury burned through him. He was not giving in again; he’d go down swinging even if he was shot in the process.
As Mitch tried to quickly formulate a plan, he heard a quick crack followed by weight falling on him. Leaping out of the way, he saw Josh standing in the dim light holding a shovel. His nightmare reduced to a lump of flesh at their feet. Mitch stood in shock, looking from the body on the floor, to Josh, and back again. As he tried to process all that had just happened, he heard Darrin come in through the door. Running over, Darrin took all of it in quickly, grabbed his cell phone and called the sheriff’s office. He then tied Steve up using the horse’s lead ropes, ordering Josh and Mitch to sit down while he did it. Both of them were in shock, and still trying to work out what had happened. After checking them both for injuries, Darrin quickly determined that neither of them was hurt, just in deep shock.
“Is he . . . dead?” asked Josh.
“No, he’s breathing. He may have a concussion, but he’s sure gonna have a goose egg and a headache for a few days.”
“Ok,” said Josh quietly.
Mitch turned and hugged Josh tight. “Thanks Josh. That was the bravest thing anyone has ever done for me. You saved my life.”
“He was going to hurt you, like when you were a kid. I heard him talking. I couldn’t let it happen again. I just knew I couldn’t live with myself,” said Josh quietly.
“Well, it wasn’t going to be like before. He’d lost control of me. I was trying to figure out how to escape, when you solved that problem for me,” said Mitch and then a small smile crept on his face. “I think you managed to knock out the bogie man, Josh. At least mine.”
Josh chuckled, “Good, then you can knock mine out next time. Oh wait, you guys already have took care of my monsters.”
A voice echoed across the barn. “Hello? Where is everyone?”
“Hey Sheriff, over here. We have a problem that we need your help with,” said Darrin.
Sheriff White Cloud walked over and surveyed the scene, from the unconscious attacker, to the still pale and shaky Josh, and stoic Mitch. The sheriff shook his head.
“This boy don’t know who he was messing with.”
“He molested me when I was a child. He thought he could pick up where he left off. Only this time he was using a gun,” said Mitch.
The sheriff looked at the now moaning form on the floor. Leaning down he quickly untied him, replacing rope with metal cuffs. Carefully putting the gun in an evidence bag, he labeled the bag and then took it to his car. Returning, he hoisted Steve off the floor and guided him to the car, stuffing him in the back seat. Calling in to his dispatch officer, he quickly gave a description and information from Steve’s driver’s license. Jim nodded and made several grunts of acknowledgment. He soon turned and walked back to the guys.
When the sheriff took Steve out of the barn, Josh and Darrin helped Mitch to his feet and the trio slowly made their way to the door. They watched as Jim made his calls and then turned back to them. They all braced for whatever bad news he had, determined that they’d face it as a family. Stopping a few feet from them, the sheriff gave them a sideways grin.
“He’s on the sexual predator list in Texas and has an arrest record a mile long, including assault. By the time he gets out of jail he will be an old man—if he survives, child molesters don’t tend to last too long in prison.”
Mitch gave the sheriff a grim smile and shook his hand. “Thanks. We appreciate it. I think all of us will sleep better with him behind bars.”
Sheriff White Cloud nodded and walked back to his car without another word. They watched as his car disappeared, amazed that none of them were hurt and even more amazed that it came out in their favor. Finally the pall of dread and fear began to lessen and they moved toward the house for some seriously needed recovery time.
Mitch was still very jumpy when he was by himself, in spite of the fact that several weeks had passed since the incident with Steve. Even as he walked into the house, he paused to check the sheltered outside areas where someone might be hiding. The scrutinization didn’t end with the outside either, Mitch had gotten in the habit of doing a check of the rooms each time he came in the house. He knew Steve was still in jail, but the lingering effect was difficult to shake. Finally convinced that he was alone, Mitch started pulling out leftovers for his lunch.
As he sat quietly eating, organizing the list of tasks that needed to be completed soon, his phone rang with an deafening volume, causing Mitch to jump, knocking over his chair. Grabbing the phone, he saw that it was Darrin. Pausing a minute to collect himself, Mitch answered the phone.
“Hey, what’s up?”
“Pack for a few days away from home. We’re going to Dallas,” came through the phone.
“What! You’re fuck’n crazy. We can’t leave now, who would take care of the place,” said Mitch as he shook his head in disbelief.
“Josh agreed to take care of everything. Get ready!” said Darrin and hung up.
Mitch stood staring at the disconnected phone for several minutes before he shook his head and settled back down to eat. He wasn’t sure what Darrin was planning, but it might actually be fun. And how much trouble could Josh get into in three days?
“Jesus! You’re going to kill us!” yelled Mitch.
“Nah, it’s just this damn Dallas traffic. Hang on!” Darrin cranked the wheel, taking them across 8 lanes of traffic to catch an exit ramp. Mitch’s hands were clamped onto the door handle so tight that his knuckles were white. He clamped his eyes shut through the next series of turns, opening them just as they pulled up to the hotel.
Mitch had to chuckle as the valet walked over to the pickup with a slight sneer on his lip. Mitch knew the truck wasn’t typical guest transportation for this upscale hotel. Darrin’s pickup was actually more in line with tailgaters from the Texas/OU game. But Mitch didn’t really care what the kid thought; he was too preoccupied with what Darrin had up his sleeve.
They handed the valet the key and followed the bellhop to the front desk. Mitch tried not to gawk, but the restored art deco interior of the hotel was amazing. Mitch was still trying to take it all in when Darrin grabbed his elbow and directed him to the elevator. They quietly rode the lift upward until Darrin caught Mitch making faces into the mirrored interior of the elevator and lightly smacked his arm. The doors snapped a few inches open and then drifted apart until the cart with their bags could be pulled out. Giving the bellhop the key card, they soon found themselves in a smallish room, but clean and brightly painted. As the bellhop moved to leave, Darrin was prepared and slipped the kid a tip, and then closed the door quietly behind him as Mitch walked over to open the curtains.
“Wow, what a great view,” said Mitch.
Darrin chuckled. “Yeah, for what it cost to make sure we got this view, it should be amazing.”
Mitch sat on the edge of the bed and waited, knowing that Darrin would tell him the reason behind this trip when he was ready. After avoiding Mitch’s stare for as long as he could, Darrin ducked his head and then turned to answer Mitch’s silent question.
“I thought you needed a break, that’s why. Steve’s trial begins soon, and I know that’s going to be rough on you. You’re already chasing shadows so I thought a weekend in Dallas would help you unwind. The state fair is starting soon, and we’re only a mile or so from the strip. I set us up in the package that includes a limo ride down there so we can blow off some steam.”
“Well,” said Mitch, “It’s starting to get dark, and the limo driver can’t possibly be worse than you—” He lunged, grabbed Darrin and threw him on the bed and started tickling him. Soon, Darrin was gasping for air as he laughed hysterically, his face turning scarlet. Mitch relinquished his attack, leaving Darrin to gulp for air. Once he’d caught his breath, Mitch leaned in to his gasping husband and kissed Darrin on the cheek.
“Thanks, babe. I think a weekend away will be great. And Josh can handle the ranch for a few days. There isn’t that much to do, what could go wrong,” said Mitch.
With that, the two of them began opening their bags and making selections for the evening. Soon both of them were in new, tight Wranglers . . . and Mitch was wearing a tightly fitted t-shirt. Mitch wrapped his arm around Darrin’s waist and pulled them together, kissing Darrin softly.
“Come on tiger, lets go tear ’em a new one!” said Mitch with a grin.
Darrin chuckled softly as they headed out the door and to the waiting limo.
Josh was standing with a look of utter disgust on his face. Zach had insisted on helping him move the cattle, but he had forgotten to close the gate and all the animals were mixed together. Zach had tried to help separate them for a little while, but he had left to go to class, leaving Josh to straighten out the mess. Unfortunately the problem included two very horny bulls, and one heifer in heat.
Josh watched and couldn’t help but laugh a little as he watched the bulls. They were tag teaming the heifer, and her pheromones were obviously working them into a mating frenzy. With each sniff of her neither regions, they would curl their top lip and then let out a bellow that could be heard for miles. The female wouldn’t stand for either of them yet, but they were both determined to be first. After several aborted attempts at separating the three of them, Josh decided to finish sorting the other cows first. Luckily, the guys had just invested in new handling equipment that made the task doable, if not pleasant, for one determined 18 year old.
Eventually he was back to the same three problem animals. She was slated to be with the horned bull, but other male didn’t seem to care what Mitch had planned. After trying everything else, Josh resorted to cracking a stock whip over their heads. The rifle shot noise it generated did finally get the three of them moving. In addition, Josh realized that by pushing the heifer first, the bulls would follow. So given both new tools, he was finally able to get the two bulls separated, and the heifer with one of them. Unfortunately for Josh, the heifer was with the wrong bull.